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Top 15 Best Paying GIS Careers

Earning a degree in geographic information systems provides graduates with the technical knowledge for several GIS careers. GIS is a fast-growing job sector. There are some GIS careers, but fundamentally, they all involve understanding and using geographic information systems hardware and software solutions for mapping and analysis. We have collected some of the highest-paying GIS careers. Salaries for these jobs are made available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Best Paying GIS Jobs Reviewed

1. Geographic Information Systems Project Manager

Geographic information systems project managers play a crucial leadership role in overseeing teams that gather and map geographical information. This career combines important leadership and management skills with the technical understanding of geographic information systems. One or more companies may hire geographic information systems project managers to generate and use mapping data to evaluate environmental conditions, research particular areas, and much more. This is a great career opportunity for those who want to lead a team while using their technical understanding.

Median Salary: $106,632

2. Intelligence Officer

An intelligence officer is a great military or government position for someone with a GIS degree. Intelligence officers with a background in geographic information systems and skills in photogrammetry and planning terrain analysis to provide valuable insight into intelligence and military operations. This type of information analysis has become incredibly valuable to governments while planning their intelligence operations. An intelligence officer with a GIS background can command a high salary, as their utility within an intelligence organization is quite high. Those who choose this career path can work for the CIA, FBI, State Department, or any other government area.

Median Salary: $87,639

3. Health Geographer

A health geographer career combines the discipline of geographic information systems with the interpretation of medical and health care issues. Combining both photogrammetry and other geographical information to assist in the understanding of health and disease, health geographers get a better understanding of how geography can affect the movement of different illnesses and the administration of healthcare. This is a precious insight to organizations hoping to solve various health crises and bolster healthcare quality in a given region.

Median Salary: $81,540

4. Climate Scientist

Climate scientists play an important role in understanding our climate and the ways that our climate is changing. An important aspect of climate science is the understanding of geographic information systems and photogrammetry. Using data and imaging from GIS systems, climate scientists can better assess climate change effects over time. They can observe the erosion of coastlines, the melting of ice caps, and many other observable phenomena that are having an effect on our planet’s climate. This is a great career option for GIS students who want to apply their skills to stop or slow down climate change.

Median Salary: $77,173

5. Lead Geographic Information Systems Analyst

A lead geographic information systems analyst has two major job roles. They are in charge of maintaining geographic information systems databases, and they are tasked with analyzing the data generated from these databases. Lead geographic information systems analysts lead analyst teams on behalf of different corporations or organizations to better interpret the data created by GIS software. Lead geographic information systems analysts are in charge of learning how to manipulate and understand it to better deal with different geographical-related issues. This includes mapping wildlife, polluted areas, carbon emissions, and more.

Median Salary: $74,987

6. Remote Sensing Analyst

A remote sensing analyst uses their knowledge of geographic information systems to interpret the remote sensing apparatus’s data. Those working in this field analyze the data generated by satellites or aircraft using GIS software. They’re in charge of formatting this image data into a more readily understandable format. They also work to take this data and ensure that it is free of distortion. Working as a remote sensing analyst can lead to a variety of different fields of work.

Median Salary: $66,617

7. Cartographer

A cartographer is one of the clearest applications of a GIS degree. In its simplest form, a cartographer is someone who creates maps. With the advent of GIS technologies, cartographers can generate far more accurate maps than ever before. With thousands of satellites mapping the planet’s surface, cartographers are tasked with taking this data and interpreting it to create more accurate maps. Cartographers are also tasked with mapping places we have yet to map, like the seabed or far-off planets.

Median Salary: $61,880

8. Law Enforcement

Law enforcement personnel and agencies have widely adopted the usage of geographic information systems. Those with a GIS degree have proven to be quite valuable to modern law enforcement agencies’ operations. In modern law enforcement, geographic information systems are used for surveillance to help reduce crime and understand the prevalence of certain types of crime in different areas. Those with an understanding of geographic information systems can help law enforcement agencies to use GIS software and systems to track and map out criminal activity in a given area. Understanding this technology can help reduce criminal activity.

Median Salary: $61,380

9. Conservationist

Conservationists’ main goal is to help to conserve the diminishing natural resources of our world. Whether this is through acts of conservation or advocacy, geographic information systems knowledge is advantageous in this field. Using remote sensing technology and GIS software allows conservationists to be better informed on how different regions are being diminished and what steps are needed to conserve the wildlife in these areas. This information is also able to be used as evidence when it comes to advocating for protection for these wildlife areas.

Median Salary: $61,310

10. Surveyor

A surveyor is someone who is someone who works to determine precise property boundaries. This is a vital function in the world of real estate and construction. Surveyors use their knowledge and understanding of GIS and photogrammetry to measure the property boundaries of a given lot more accurately. This is important to ensure that construction projects are properly utilizing the land available to them and aren’t encroaching into others’ space. Surveyors often work outdoors, so this is a one of the better GIS careers for those who like to be outside.

Median Salary: $58,020

11. City Planner

 City planners use a variety of skills and disciplines, including an understanding GIS, to help create land-use plans for urban areas. When planning urban areas and cities, city planners must consider a variety of factors, including projected population growth, community resources, living space, and more. Geographic information systems have provided city planners with a whole new means to conduct their job. City planners with a GIS degree are prepared with a skill set that will allow them to map out and plan the cities of the future more accurately.

Median Salary: $57,918

12. GIS Analyst

A GIS analyst specifically works with the data generated by GIS systems to create spatial data sets, maps, databases, and more. A good way to conceptualize this is role is to think of a GIS analyst as the person who makes sense of the raw information provided by satellites and remote sensing hardware. A major part of this job involves data management. Oftentimes, these GIS platforms generate large amounts of data. It is up to GIS analysts to store that data and make it available in an understandable form to the layman.

Median Salary: $55,353

13. GIS Developer

A GIS developer is another technical role within the geographic information systems career family. GIS developers are in charge of developing the software that drives GIS systems. A GIS developer career involves writing code interfaces with the hardware systems that drive the remote sensing and photogrammetry platforms used in GIS. These software solutions must take this data from this hardware to be interpolated and interpreted into data that can be used for other purposes. GIS developers must have an understanding of coding as well as an understanding of GIS to excel in this career.

Median Salary: $54,213

14. Geospatial Analyst

A geospatial analyst is a critical job in the field of environmental records. Geospatial analysts use various technologies and data sources to record the changes in geography and landscapes over time. This is crucial information that is useful to a variety of industries. Geospatial analysts help others to understand how our lands are changing and transforming around us. This is crucial to other fields of work like construction, city planning, and more. Geospatial analysts are crucial to understanding changes in the land across time.

Median Salary: $54,213

15. GIS Technician

A GIS technician is tasked with using GIS information to generated maps and GIS databases. This is one of the more entry-level GIS careers and is a great place to get started after graduating with a GIS degree. GIS technicians employ various disciplines to take photogrammetry data and GIS data to create databases and maps used by many different industries. A GIS technician works closely with GIS data to create GIS systems that can be used to provide valuable information about a given geographic area.

Median Salary: $42,135


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This concludes our ranking of the top GIS careers.

NPCO Staff
February 2021